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Poster: Jim F Date: Jun 1, 2010 12:37am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Calling all Dark Star experts

I like to think I'm an expert here. I have every circulating Dark Star and have a lot of opinions anyway.

I agree on 9/21/72. While it is one of the longer ones on record, it doesn't wander into scary territory like so many others from the year, and is full of nice thematic jamming as well as other more laidback or "lighthearted" jazzy passages. And I'm one who likes the scary stuff. Yet this Dark Star excels over many from the year even without the scare factor. I think 3/23/72 is a very similar Dark Star in this regard, and is worth recommending for the purposes of this search. It is sortof like a condensed version of 9/21. 4/8/72 might also be worth mentioning. It has a bit of the scare factor, but is one of the absolutely most stunning versions I've ever heard. 4/8 and 5/11 are probably my top 2 of the Europe tour.

I would also echo with 10/31/71. It has that typical Fall 71 feel, jazzy and jammy but without the deep space seen in 72-74. Probably the best recommendation in this thread. 12/5 is a pretty good choice as well, though for the purposes of answering the initial request of this thread I might go with 12/15. I personally have a really soft spot in my heart for 11/15, probably my favorite of Fall 71, but you would probably want to toss that one aside as the jam out of El Paso does get a little frantic.

I personally don't really care for the few Stars of 74, aside from 10/18 maybe (I think the massive 20+ minute jam with Ned Lagin preceeding it got most of the space and anarchy out of their system and they tend to stay on the tracks a little more). 74 Stars just seem a little too loose, slow, and often chaotic, seemingly lacking the contrasts and shifts that make a 72 or 73 Star so great (5/14/74 comes to mind, to me it is just 20+ minutes of the same, it lacks the shifting of gears seen in 72-73). For the Keith era Dark Stars, 1972 by far holds the majority of my favorites. Anyone looking for something a little more concise or "not scary" should probably stay away from 74.

7/31/71 is also a perfect recommendation. It is truly one of the more unique versions, I've always felt it is the definitive "transition" Star, bridging the path of 1970's versions with the jazz and space versions we would start to see later in the year, which built it's way to perfection in Europe and became the standard format for the next few years.

Though in my opinion, if someone is looking for something similar to a late 1969 Star, it seems to me that recommending anything from late 71-74 is like giving a cheeseburger to someone who asks for a banana. If 10/25/69 is what you are into, then you're probably better off heeding the advice of those steering you towards 9/19/70 (prob my favorite of the year, along with 2/13 I suppose) or 5/15/70. 12/30/69 is a fun one as well. 11/2/69 is a real beauty also.

I think those late 69 and 1970 versions are nice in that they tend to have those really quiet segments just after the first verse. As midnightcarousel said, they are less scary/feedback laden and tend to just be more quiet, introspective spaces that gently build into really beautiful jams. 9/19/70 is the perfect example of that, definitely heed the wise words of Mr. Tell and check that one out. I think that is what makes a good Dark Star a great Dark Star. Aside from the first 2 years or so, what defines a Dark Star for me is it's loosely structured but very deliberate transitions between tempos and thematic jams and space segments. Any good long Dark Star is about going on a journey, or perhaps like reading a good book, it twists and turns through various neighborhoods or moods or chapters, and the enjoyment is all about the thrill and "in the moment" uncertainty about what is around the corner. In "short," the fun is in the journey itself, not the destination.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jun 1, 2010 3:30am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Calling all Dark Star experts

For an expert, you don't post very often!

It's been said that 1974 marks Dark Star's "dissolution into space"... The band's jamming in general that year is perhaps more fragmented & chaotic than in 1973. I do love 10/18 (though its slot between Seastones and Morning Dew adds a lot to the intensity), and 2/24 and 9/10 are as of now my favorites from the year - at least til I do more re-listening!

Anyway, it is hard to recommend a Dark Star to someone who doesn't like feedback or space....so that pretty much takes care of my own favorite versions! And it basically rules out late '73/74. But it does make '71 the year to point to.

I don't think grendel would like 3/23/72 much, as it's full of mayhem & discordancy - although the last few minutes are quite appealing.

It does make sense to recommend the versions closest to 10/25/69 - but within the guidelines, late '69 also has some big 'space' sections in the Stars, and it's hard to say how much space it takes to scare off grendel... 11/2 is the greatest of that era in any case; 11/7 may not be the greatest, but I thought it was a lot of fun.
In late '69 and 1970, there's quite a bit of variety in how they tackle the space & following themes - though they have a smaller bag of tricks than in later years, it still comes out different every time! But by '72, the Star jams are more unpredictable, you don't know what might be coming next...

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Jun 1, 2010 5:33am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Calling all Dark Star experts

2-24-74 is my favorite show of '74 and perhaps my favorite show period and the Dark Star is part of the appeal. However I did think of one other Dark Star that I listen to more than 2-24 and I think it might fit the initial request. 6-23-74 is probably one of the shortest post-Pig Era DS played (i know they did one for like 3 min in spring '73) however the jamming is jazzy and never scary and it is part of one of my all time favorite sequences transitioning into a fantastic Spanish Jam and then into the best US Blues.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd74-06-23.sbd.cribbs.16780.sbeok.shnf

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Poster: Jim F Date: Jun 2, 2010 12:05am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Calling all Dark Star experts

Ha yeah I'm not a very regular poster here. But I've been reading this forum and keeping up with you crazies for years haha. Pretty much ever since the GD project began here. I'm highly opinionated but for some reason just rarely ramble much here. :)

I'm an avid collector of 1966-1980, and have at least one source for every show in those years, give or take one or two here and there. I've been seriously collecting since the late 90's and pretty much have the first 15 years of setlists in my Deadbase memorized lol. I'm just as obssessive and neurotic when it comes to collecting and listening to this music as all you regular posters, I just don't comment all that much is all. But when I do read/post, I really feel at home here. There aren't that many places where I can go and make a comment about some 30 second piece of some random jam and have 20 people all know exactly what I'm talking about haha.


Anywho, I haven't listened to 3/23/72 in some time, I think it was those last few minutes that had me thinking it wasn't that "out there." The thematic jam at the end always reminded me of that beautiful jam near the end of 9/21. I don't recall there being that much craziness in that Dark Star. Darnitall I guess now I gotta go pull it out! :-P

Also, basically everything I wanted to say in this thread, you said perfectly right here...I couldn't phrase it any better...


"Anyway, it is hard to recommend a Dark Star to someone who doesn't like feedback or space....so that pretty much takes care of my own favorite versions! And it basically rules out late '73/74. But it does make '71 the year to point to.

I don't think grendel would like 3/23/72 much, as it's full of mayhem & discordancy - although the last few minutes are quite appealing.

It does make sense to recommend the versions closest to 10/25/69 - but within the guidelines, late '69 also has some big 'space' sections in the Stars, and it's hard to say how much space it takes to scare off grendel... 11/2 is the greatest of that era in any case; 11/7 may not be the greatest, but I thought it was a lot of fun.
In late '69 and 1970, there's quite a bit of variety in how they tackle the space & following themes - though they have a smaller bag of tricks than in later years, it still comes out different every time! But by '72, the Star jams are more unpredictable, you don't know what might be coming next..."

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Poster: midnightcarousel Date: Jun 2, 2010 11:28am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Calling all Dark Star experts

Keep posting, dude! You are clearly a good writer and seem to have a whole lot of insight and opinions that we'd all like to hear about.

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Poster: Jim F Date: Jun 5, 2010 2:29am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Calling all Dark Star experts

If you meant me, well thank ya very much. I'm no Light Into Ashes, but I've always really enjoyed writing show reviews and my personal observations. I used to follow a local GD tribute around here and record their weekly house gig every week and write reviews to go along with my recordings.